The Hawks the last time they played the Raptors was December 11th and not long before that beat down of the Raptors on December 2nd where they gave up 146 points in Atlanta. That was the highest anyone had scored in the league this year until last night where the Suns score 152 points vs Minnesota last night. For your scoreboard watching consideration tonight the Bobcats face the Thunder (Who visit Toronto Friday) , Chicago plays the Mavericks, and Bucks vs Clippers all will be in action tonight. Miami has the night off and will face in state rivals Orlando tomorrow night.
These next 2 games feature teams that are at the best of times tough match-ups for the Raptors in highly athletic teams that can get up and down the floor. The Raptors will need to correct at the very least 4 things to have any shot to win tonight or Friday.
1. Perimeter Defense- It has been brutal and it must get better. simple as that. The Raptors have been killed consistently by giving up open looks from 3. Here is a simple concept that I have always bought into. 3>2 and always will be. Meaning if you have the ability to make the 3 point shot it is a valuable weapon but the same is true in reverse if you can't defend it. Raptors make a lot of the streak they have where they have made at least one 3 pointer. I am more curious and interested in the last time they denied a team making one.
2. Rebounding- The Raptors are always excused of being a brutal defensive team and with good reason. However sometimes they have played excellent defense only to not finish the job and allow teams to get an offensive rebound. Basically if it were me I would say it is everyone's job to get on the glass. Guard, Forward, Center from Italy....I don't care. The Raptors have said they want to run and push the pace. Well this is not exactly inventing the wheel here but you can't do that without the ball. Get after it on the glass. There is no magic formula to rebounding. It is 99% about effort.
3. Turnovers- Can't have them. From the top guy on squad all the way down the line. Turnovers against Atlanta and OKC will lead to highlight dunks in transition. Raptors must value possession. In the playoffs where the Raptors hope to be come April 14th, every possession is vital in the post season. Well newsflash for the Raptors. If you haven't figured it out yet the Playoffs for you have already started. So start playing like it and take care of the basketball.
4. No I in Team- This team was called by it's coach selfish. They all seem to be trying to do to much as individuals and it is costing them on both ends of the floor. This is by far not a new expression here. But ball movement on offense and communication and help on defense are aspects of playing good team basketball. Kobe Bryant and Lebron James have even learned this lesson that as good as an individual can be. Eventually you can only get so far. Chris Bosh in calling out his team has been criticized by some. But I think it is a combination of him being frustrated and knowing this fact. He won a gold medal on Team U.S.A on a team full of stars. Part of why that was possible is because everyone bought into playing as a team. Basketball has been called the greatest team sport ever invented by some. It can be that and when a team fully buys into a team concept it can be beautiful to watch.
That about does it for me. I am going to be doing some running around today getting ready for the launch of RAPTORS RUN THIS BAR WEDNESDAYS....WHICH STARTS TONIGHT HERE IN HAMILTON. 291 QUEENSTON ROAD....@BROOKLYN'S. If you show up you will have you chance to win 2 tickets to Raptors vs Warriors on April 4th. So happy St. Patrick's Day and come on down if you are in the Hamilton area and watch the game with me. I won't lie the Raptors have not exactly been helpful in the build up to this event but they need a win badly and if they play poorly to be in a place that serves drinks might not be a bad idea. Also great food for you to enjoy as well.